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Month: August 2022

Although COVID-19 is (hopefully) behind us, the pandemic will have long-term impacts on the working world. Having grown accustomed to, and comfortable with, working remotely, many employees are resisting a return to the office.

Though managers would generally prefer to have everyone physically back in the workplace, given the tight labor market and projections for lower workforce growth over the coming decade, they can’t push too hard.

Of course, remote work isn’t an option for everyone. But for knowledge workers who are able to work from home (or pretty much anywhere), some combination of remote and hybrid (part-time in the office) work is likely to permanently replace full-time in-the-office employment.

Developing team cohesion and camaraderie is more important than ever for improving employee retention. Yet it’s also incredibly challenging to do when employees spend little time interacting in person. What are managers to do?

A regular schedule of team building and professional development programs can check all the boxes: it builds strong relationships, enhances collaboration, increases employee loyalty, and improves interpersonal skills. The end result is an engaged, high-performing workforce. Here’s how to get there.

How to Use Team Building with Remote and Hybrid Work Teams

Effectively managing and optimizing the cohesion of physically disconnected work teams requires thinking about the challenge across multiple dimensions, including people, processes, and programs.

Building collaborative teams goes way beyond the technology. Tools like Slack, Zoom, and Monday can certainly be helpful, and remote work applications have in general gotten a lot better over the past couple of years. But the tools themselves are only infrastructure; it’s how the tools are used that leads to high performance (or not).

People

One challenge of managing remote/hybrid teams is that it’s harder to really get to know your team, and for team members to really get to know each other, without the benefit of in-person verbal and non-verbal cues day in and day out.

As noted in a previous post here, maximizing team cohesion with different personalities and work styles starts with utilizing some type of personality assessment tool, such as the DiSC model, MBTI assessment, or Predictive Index. The insights they provide are valuable in any environment but are even more crucial when managing physically disconnected work teams.

Some employees are comfortable working independently, with periodic check-ins and updates from team members. Others are more collaborative and prefer to talk issues through with teammates. Still others need time to process information and are uncomfortable making snap decisions.

It’s vital for managers to understand these differences regardless of the work structure, but even more critical—and challenging—in remote or hybrid situations. For example, an employee who craves socialization may need opportunities for direct conversations with the team leader and coworkers in order to remain comfortable and engaged.

“Managing is less about tactics and goals and more about team cohesion, building culture, and creating one-on-one relationships. Then when conflict or a crisis does happen, you’re better equipped to handle it,” says leadership coach Wendy Bryan.

“You have to arm your managers of hybrid or remote work teams with assessment tools and skills. It’s about really understanding the workplace drivers and what makes people tick, because most employees can’t just tell you how best to manage them.”

Leadership training is essential for enabling managers to understand and properly use the results of personality assessments. Team building programs help employees better understand and accommodate the different work styles and preferences of their colleagues.

Process

One basic component of managing geographically dispersed groups and making everyone feel like part of the team is not only a regular cadence of online meetings, but also an established structure, so that everyone gets the most out of virtual meetings.

That’s vital from a tactical standpoint, but it’s also crucial for managers to understand the softer side of online communications. Who needs to be “called on” during team meetings because they aren’t as eager as others to speak up? How do employees prefer to be contacted for urgent or quick questions: phone call? Text? Are they highly responsive on Slack or email? That’s important to know on both tactical and interpersonal levels.

The output of personality assessments can also be incorporated in creative ways into remote team communications.

For example, notes Wendy, “We could take the placards from the Predictive Index and black out the names. Then interject those into weekly or monthly meetings, asking ‘Who do you think is who? Which one is yours?’ It’s a five-minute icebreaker that’s fun, gets everyone relaxed, and is much more meaningful than small talk about sports or the weather.”

It’s also helpful for remote team cohesion to occasionally interrupt business with fun. For example, once a month, hold a mandatory 30-minute Zoom meeting where people have to be away from their desks and doing something physical, to encourage health and wellness.

People might be walking, at the gym, vacuuming, any physical activity. It may seem awkward at first, but after a few sessions, team members start to get creative and have fun with it. It’s great for physical and mental health, as well as employees showing a different side of themselves.

Team building and professional development programs also play a crucial role. “Think about what happens at sales meetings, marketing kickoffs, or other all-employee gatherings,” says Wendy. “People get to see each other, give high-fives, and hang out together. That’s so important. When it’s not possible or practical, virtual team building helps to meet that need in building team cohesiveness.

“You can have a manager attend leadership development training or your people do a team building program. Both are important, but have two different psychological effects. One is addressing the manager and how to manage. The other is for the team and how to see other sides of coworkers beyond email, Slack, and Zoom meetings. Start with team building for everybody, then springboard off into getting managers trained to be better leaders.”

Programs

Helpful programs for leadership and professional development in hybrid / remote work environments include:

  • Building Your Hybrid Team: This custom virtual workshop will give you and your hybrid team a roadmap for moving forward, while helping to organize for increased efficiency. It focuses on methodologies that your group can use in future meetings, and explore behavioral and work styles and situational leadership approaches. It will help you to create an Objective Statement along with corresponding team goals to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Virtual Coaching and Feedback: This online program will increase your ability and skill to provide virtual coaching and feedback that is engaging and effective. It helps develop trust and respect and promotes self-awareness that will allow for increased development and focused career planning.
  • Conducting Better Virtual Meetings: Learn the skills and tools to make your virtual meetings effective and productive. Plan remote meetings that will deliver tangible results with clear takeaways and follow-up action plans that will ensure your attendees see value in attending and participating.
  • Developing Emerging Leaders: For a more in-depth approach to developing and enhancing leaders in your organization, this comprehensive workshop series helps current and future leaders realize their full potential.

Among the most popular and effective virtual team building programs for strengthening remote team cohesion are:

  • Virtual Morning Jumpstart: This event can be delivered on any day of the week as a fun way to launch into a productive workday with smiles and camaraderie. Virtual Morning Jumpstart promotes team cohesion and enhances relationships through a lively series of game-type challenges and morning wake-up-themed activities.
  • Virtual escape rooms: Programs such as Escape the Office, Save the Boss, and Search for the Cure bring together an immersive storyline, clues of varying difficulty, detailed graphics, and an advanced escape room platform to intrigue and challenge your group.
  • Virtual Speed Networking: This engaging get-to-know-you event incorporates a series of fun and challenging icebreaker activities and discussion topics, conducted remotely. After every break-out session, teams will return to the virtual “General Session” space to reconnect with the large group and the host.

How to Schedule Workshops and Programs to Enhance Team Cohesion

Keeping remote work teams engaged and productive requires establishing protocols and processes, but also building team cohesiveness in a hybrid work environment. It’s very helpful to do some type of activity on a quarterly basis that brings the team together outside of the work you actually have to do. To maintain team cohesiveness among remote workers, you need to be even more deliberate about this than when you have the whole team on site every day.

In addition to training or professional development workshops that are just for managers, an ideal cadence is one team building event per quarter—live if possible, virtual if not. And the entire team should do at least one or two live, in-person team building events each year.

Conclusion

Building and maintaining highly collaborative and productive work teams is challenging in any environment, but even more so in remote or hybrid work situations. Leadership development and team building programs are essential for optimizing team cohesion and performance.

Managing successful remote teams requires the right mix of people management, processes, and programs. It starts with using a personality assessment tool to help managers really understand the unique characteristics of team members, and training managers on how to use the output of these tools.

Remote work processes help keep the team in sync. These need to take into consideration both tactical requirements and people management “soft skills.”

Team building and professional development programs play a vital role in keeping remote team members engaged, and your teams performing at a high level. The ideal cadence for team building activities is quarterly, with at least one in-person event each year.

When it comes to the performance of work teams, “our diversity is our strength” isn’t just a slogan. Dozens of research studies over time have shown that diverse teams are smarter, increase financial returns to the organization, and perform 30% better than homogeneous teams.

Diversity and inclusion are often thought of in racial or ethnic terms, but also include diversity of approaches and perspectives. When team members think about problems differently, the team is more likely to make better decisions because it will evaluate the situation from different angles.

As a very simple example, “drivers”—people who throw around phrases like “move fast and break things,” “get ‘er done,” and “just do it”—help keep teams moving forward. But team members who are detail-oriented “questioners” and “collaborators” prevent the group from moving too fast and overlooking important considerations. The most effective teams have a mix of these personality types.

The key to unlocking the high-performance potential of diverse teams is skilled management. Without the right tools in place for managers to understand and address the different personalities, perspectives, and work styles of team members, there are significant risks of dissatisfaction, dysfunction, and eventually employee turnover.

Here are several tools, processes, and programs that can help managers optimize the collaboration, cohesion, and performance of diverse work teams. But first, a quick look at the risks of getting it wrong.

Risks of Mismanaging Diverse Teams

Improper management can lead to dissension and disagreement within the team, as well as disengagement and even departure of skilled employees. So how does a manager know there are problems that need to be addressed?

It’s a combination of verbal and non-verbal cues. Is there conflict? Is there frustration? Are people unhappy? You, as the team leader, can probably see by their body language or their tone of voice that something is bothering them.

Getting the team back on track requires digging in to determine what’s really going wrong beneath the surface. Too often, when one team member is seen as “holding the team back,” the temptation is to steamroll forward and let that individual work it out and catch up.

Talented employees start off in new roles with enthusiasm, with the desire to be empowered and to make a difference. But if they aren’t given time to think things through, if they don’t feel their concerns are being listened to or addressed, they will begin to disengage.

Leaders are generally skilled at managing employees at the tactical level: “Do you have enough resources? Enough training? How are you doing on your goals? How’s your task list going on our timeline?”

But they also need the “soft skills” to understand how each of their employees processes information. Do they need more details? Just the big picture? Do they need to collaborate and check in with others? When managers don’t get this and accommodate different work styles, they too often end up surprised when talented employees walk out the door.

How to Optimize Performance Teams with Diverse Personality Types

Effectively managing team members with diverse personalities starts with a behavioral assessment. You need a tool that will provide a roadmap for these discussions, because optimizing team cohesion isn’t tactical; there isn’t a simple list of items you can check off.

The tactical side of team management is about metrics you can hit when thinking about SMART goals. Did we complete all of our tasks? Did we meet our timelines? Did we stay within budget? Those are checklist goals.

But when you think about team cohesion, culture, and managing a mix of personalities, you have to take a different tack. It’s all about building a culture.

A behavioral assessment is ground zero for this effort because it provides insights about “what makes people tick” in ways you usually can’t get from observation, even if you’ve worked with an individual for years. Suppose that person doesn’t say much in meetings—is it because they are processing the information, or because they are thinking three steps ahead?

As an example, a salesperson and an accountant may both be very good with numbers, but the accountant values structure and detail while the salesperson prefers more operational latitude and the freedom to move quickly.

It’s up to you as the leader to figure out who on your team needs details, who wants to “figure out as we go,” and who wants to discuss the issues with a wider range of people.

Tools to Help Manage Teams with Different Personalities and Work Styles

Building team cohesion across diverse personalities is like driving without GPS (or even a map) if you aren’t using some type of assessment tool. You’re making decisions based on gut instinct instead of science. Here are three tools that can provide the basis for more effective management of diverse personality types.

DiSC: DiSC is an acronym that stands for the four main personality profiles described in the DiSC model: (D)ominance, (i)nfluence, (S)teadiness and (C)onscientiousness. Depending on which personality type an individual best fits, that person will place relatively more or less emphasis on factors like getting results, influencing others, collaborating, or digging into details.

Understanding the different personality types on a team helps managers more effectively communicate with and motivate each individual. It improves understanding, leading to improved cohesion and reduced conflict.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): This assessment can help dramatically improve team dynamics by clearly identifying the strengths and benefits associated with specific personality traits. It provides terminology that can be used in the workplace to handle disagreements respectfully and productively.

The MBTI assessment helps managers understand the personality composition of their team so they can communicate more effectively, improving performance while minimizing unproductive and corrosive conflict.

Predictive Index: This provides managers and leaders with the tools to have better conversations with team members, helping them understand each person’s drivers using a simple placard.

For example, consider this team with five members: Josh, Catherine, Julie, Ian, and Michael. Each has a different pattern.

Looking at these placards you can see, for example, Josh and Ian like to collaborate. Julie’s is “Let me drive,” while Catherine and Michael are situational: sometimes they’ll take a lead and want to drive, and sometimes they’ll collaborate.

That information alone allows you to better understand why Julie is always the most talkative in every meeting. But Josh and Ian prefer to test the waters with other people it will affect. Julie, who likes to drive, just trusts the process, so she doesn’t need to collaborate on many decisions.

Julie, Josh, and Michael are all “Let me think it through” types as well, while Catherine and Ian like to talk it out. So, again, when you’re in meetings and talking about launching a new product or project, understanding how your different team members address the problem helps you facilitate that conversation because you can see that Catherine and Ian want to talk it out, while you may need to prompt the other team members to tell you what they are thinking or what pieces of the puzzle you may be missing.

Using any of these behavioral assessment tools is more effective than simply asking questions, because most people aren’t able to articulate what these assessments reveal. The results are as enlightening to the individuals themselves as to their managers.

As a leader, these assessments will help you understand, for example, whether a team member needs more details in order to make a decision; prefers to collaborate with others first; or simply needs to think it all through. From a team cohesion standpoint, you need to understand these workplace drivers because they don’t fit neatly into management checklists. The key is behavioral assessments.

Team Building and Professional Development Programs to Help Manage Diverse Personalities

Best Corporate Events offers a number of team building and professional development programs that can help your managers better understand teams with diverse personality types while helping team members to better understand themselves and each other. The result is more cohesive, higher-performing teams.

Among these programs are:

Developing Emerging Leaders: Over a series of five virtual group sessions, this program utilizes the Predictive Index to assist in developing high-potential individual contributors into your organization’s next generation of leaders.

It addresses the four workplace drivers at several levels, starting with identifying who you are and understanding where you are. The program then progresses into communication; dealing with conflict; managing up and across the organization; and finally, managing and developing others.

DiSC Profile Workshop: This program introduces your team to the DiSC Model, a behavior assessment tool that helps professionals understand their own styles of behavior and communication, as well as those of their colleagues. Learning how to manage these styles and identify areas in need of improvement can help participants eliminate bad habits, minimize conflict, and improve overall team success.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) Training: An emotionally intelligent organization is one in which each member understands their Emotional Quotient (EQ) and how best to tap into it for professional growth. Applying EI within an organization helps to build trust and encourage open communication. This compelling, informative workshop covers case studies on EI, its six major components, and how one can apply their own EQ in the workplace.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Training: This eye-opening program introduces your group to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. This tool can dramatically improve team dynamics by identifying personality types and demonstrating how the knowledge of these types can be applied to improve group communication, cohesion, and performance. Participants will also gain a comprehensive understanding of their specific personality traits, what strengths they bring to the table, and how they can improve.

Conclusion

Research consistently shows that teams comprised of diverse personality types outperform and make better decisions than more homogenous groups. But managing such diverse teams to optimize cohesion and performance is challenging.

Behavior assessments are the key to unleashing team performance and preventing unproductive conflict. The results of these assessments help managers understand how to most effectively communicate with each team member, while providing team members with insights that help them better understand their own drivers and characteristics, and how to collaborate productively with each other.

There are several different assessment tools available to help managers and teams, including the DiSC profile, MBTI, and Predictive Index. Each provides a distinctive output format and terminology to help manage group dynamics. Predictive Index uses placards that describe individuals across four personality dimensions.

Professional development training programs help leaders and team members best use the output of these assessment tools. Programs range from in-person workshops to multi-session virtual training exercises. The end result is happier, higher-functioning teams that are more cohesive and less plagued by unproductive conflict.

Our virtual professional development workshops are ideal for bringing together teams across regions or in hybrid work environments to enhance conflict resolution and team management skills. These workshops combine professional facilitation, the latest remote work technologies, and an engaging, dynamic approach to leadership development.

Pressed for time? Our virtual training programs offer the core learning and growth opportunities of a full professional development workshop in a more compact time frame.

The end result is happier, higher-functioning teams that are more cohesive and less plagued by unproductive conflict.

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    If you have immediate questions, please contact us at:

    Phone: 800.849.8326
    Email: Sales@BestCorporateEvents.com

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    Programs can be delivered anywhere in North America.

      If you have immediate questions, please contact us at:

      Phone: 800.849.8326
      Email: Sales@BestCorporateEvents.com

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